WinXP Tweaking: From Relax to Righteous

We have had many viewers get a lot of help from our previous WinXP Tweaking Guide, so what could be better than another? Come join Koroush "PersianImmortal" Ghazi as he takes you even deeper into the Wonderful World of Windows XP. He'll be showing you how to get the absolute most out of your WinXP operating system!
| Feb 7, 2003 at 11:00 pm CST
Manufacturer: none

WinXP Tweaking: From Relax to Righteous - Introduction

IntroductionWindows XP has been out for over a year now, and more and more people have taken to it as the OS of choice for a range of uses. You may have already read my first WinXP guide with the title Windows XP Tweaking: From Reformat to Relax. That guide covers all the essential known XP performance tweaks in a walkthrough style and is right up to date, so if you haven't read it, it's the first place you should go to for XP tweaking goodness. It's guaranteed to speed up your system.Ever since my first XP guide was released I have received literally millions of emails every day begging me, nay, pleading with me to do a second one. It got to the point where I was being harassed in the streets by crazy fans and I couldn't even go out for a meal without someone coming up to me and asking "When are you gonna write a second XP guide man?" When the paparazzi started camping outside my house, I knew it was time to get to work on guide number two.Well here it is. This highly anticipated second XP guide picks up where the first one left off by bringing together a range of XP tips and tweaks which address commonly encountered problems, provide visual enhancement and customization, and all the little niceties and shortcuts which make XP quicker and easier to use. This guide applies to Windows XP Home and Professional, and is compatible with XP SP1 (or SP1a). You don't need to have read or used my first XP Guide, but of course it is highly recommended that you do. That guide again is: Windows XP Tweaking: From Reformat to Relax. This guide may seem long, but trust me, it's worth working your way through. I guarantee you'll find some real gems in this baby.Ok, let's get ready to go from Relax to Righteous...Read on!How much to upgrade to x64 Edition?

WinXP Tweaking: From Relax to Righteous - Before We Begin

Before We BeginThe alternate name for this section is Covering My Butt! As with my first WinXP Guide, I urge you to take some basic precautions before you try any of the tweaks in this guide. All the tweaks have been tested, and I've only included what I think are useful, working, "safe" tweaks in this guide. However, regardless of how simple or safe the tweak appears to be, individual system setups vary and your particular combination of hardware and software may react badly to any of these tweaks.To make sure that using these tweaks doesn't turn into a bad experience for you, and that in turn you don't take it out on poor ol' Koroush, follow these precautionary measures: - Back up all your important data. This should be part of your regular routine anyway, however make a fresh backup using your chosen method, preferably to CD or a different hard drive than the one which contains your WinXP installation. - Back up your registry. You can do this by going to Start>Run>Regedit, choose File>Export, select All under Export Range, then choose a directory and enter a name for the backup file. Click Save to start the backup process. Should you make any registry changes which cause problems and you're not sure what the source of problems is, you can restore your backup registry by double-clicking on this .reg file.- A much better method than only backing up the registry is to use System Restore. Unless you're very confident with your PC, enable System Restore and create a new restore point prior to doing any tweaking. You can do this by doing the following:
1. Press the Start button and click on Help and Support. Or, click on an empty area on your desktop then press F1 to bring up Help and Support. Or open MSConfig (Start>Run>MSConfig) and click the Launch System Restore button.2. In the Help and Support Centre, click 'Performance and Maintenance'.3. Click 'Using System Restore to undo system changes' and then click 'Run the System Restore Wizard' under the 'Pick a Task' heading. If you get an error saying System Restore has been disabled, see my first WinXP Guide and undo any tweaks which disable System Restore. You'll need Administrator access to do that.4. In the System Restore Wizard, click Create a Restore Point and follow the prompts to save your system state in a new restore point. 5. At any time, if you wish to return your computer to the state it was in when you created the Restore Point, follow steps 1-3 above to get to the System Restore Wizard. Then click 'Restore my computer to an earlier time', and select the date on which you created the restore point you wish to return to.Using System Restore means that even if you make a large number of changes, it's fairly easy to take your system back to the way it was before tweaking. I repeat, create a new restore point now before you proceed any further with this guide. If anything goes wrong and you're not sure what, go back to your restore point.Having taken the above precautions, next up I once again strongly urge you to follow my first WinXP Tweak Guide, and then my System Optimization Guide to ensure your system is optimized for performance and stability. This second XP guide is more about convenience and security than performance, so optimize first then use this guide. After all there's no point getting a new paint job on your car if the engine is falling apart.This guide primarily uses the programs and utilities which are already built into Windows XP (both Home and Pro). Where an outside utility is used, a link is provided to where you can download it for free. You also don't need to have installed WinXP Service Pack 1 (SP1/SP1a) to use these tweaks, but once again I urge you to do so. See the Installation Issues section of this guide for more information on SP1 - what it is, where to download it and how best to install it. Even if you haven't (and don't want to) install SP1, make sure at least that you've run Windows Update (see Windows Update section) and installed all the MS Critical Patches to ensure maximum performance, stability and compatibility. Two Handy Registry TweaksBefore we go any further, there are two special registry tweaks you can use straight away to make life easier while going through this guide: Restore your RegistryTool: RegeditIf your system is crashing and you're having major problems, you can always use System Restore as detailed above. However if your last restore point is a little old, or you can't get to the System Restore Wizard, you can use these two methods to restore your registry to the last time things were well.1. During bootup, keep pressing the F8 key and you'll soon see an option to 'Load last good configuration'. Select it and your computer will boot into Windows, devoid of the changes you made which caused any recent serious problems; or2. If you have a recent restore point, but can't boot to the Windows desktop for some reason, keep pressing F8 during bootup, but this time choose the option to 'Boot into Safe Mode'. From Safe Mode you can access System Restore by going into Control Panel>System and selecting the System Restore tab, and following the method outlined further above to restore an old restore point.For more details, see this Microsoft article: How to Recover from a Corrupted Registry.Update the Registry without rebooting WindowsTool: Task Manager
Some registry changes won't come into effect until you re-initialize the registry. Typically this is done by rebooting your PC. If you don't want to reboot just to see the effects of a registry change, a quicker way to re-initialize the registry and also refresh the desktop is to do the following:1. Open Task Manager by pressing the CTRL, ALT and DEL keys together at once (CTRL+ALT+DEL). 2. Click on the Processes tab.3. Right click on the 'Explorer.exe' item and select End Process (do this for all instances of Explorer.exe). You'll get a warning to which you should answer Yes. Your desktop and taskbar may then go blank - don't panic, this is normal.4. Still in Task Manager, under the File menu select New Task (Run...) and type in "Explorer" (without the quotes), then click OK. Your desktop and taskbar will be restored as explorer is reloaded.This reloads explorer, implements any new registry settings, removes any screen corruption and may also resolve any strange application behaviour. Of course this method doesn't work as a substitute for a reboot after a driver install or any other major system change, so usually I recommend you simply reboot your machine as required.Ok, enough precautions and preamble, let's move on to the actual tweaking.How much to upgrade to x64 Edition?

WinXP Tweaking: From Relax to Righteous - Guide Layout & Desktop

Guide LayoutThis guide is broken down into sections based on the major areas of Windows XP. Unlike the first XP guide, this time I haven't put all the registry tweaks into a Registry section for example. Instead, if you want to tweak a particular area of Windows XP, such as Internet Explorer, you'll find all the tweaks for it (including relevant registry tweaks) in the Internet Explorer section.For each tweak, the title should give a clear description of what it does, then the major tool used for applying the tweak is noted, and the tweak instructions are then provided (often step-by-step). Read through the entire tweak first before deciding to implement it, because if you just jump straight into it you might get halfway and realise you don't want to (or can't) go through with it, at which point it may be difficult to go back without using something like System Restore. Registry editing for example has no "Undo"...if you delete a registry entry the only way to get it back is by using the backup methods mentioned above.Also keep in mind that I'm not recommending you run ALL the tweaks in this guide on your system. Just pick the ones you like and give them a try. I have tested all of these tweaks and they all work as described, but if they don't work for you, let me know. Common ToolsThere are several common WinXP tools which will be used repeatedly throughout this guide. To access them quickly, do the following:Regedit - The Registry Editor can be accessed by going to Start>Run and typing "Regedit" without quotes.Windows Explorer - Access it by pressing the Windows Key and E together; or by right-clicking the Start button and selecting Explore; or by going to Start>Run and typing "Explorer" without quotes.Internet Explorer 6 - Access it via the desktop icon or Start Menu shortcut, or go to Start>Run and type "Iexplore" without quotes. Make sure you have the latest version which is Internet Explorer 6 with IE6 SP1 and all Critical Updates. You should update to the latest version using Windows Update.Windows Update - Access it by using one of the many Windows Update icons spread throughout Windows, or by going into Internet Explorer>Tools>Windows Update, or by clicking on this link and adding it to your Favorites.Task Manager - Access it by pressing CTRL + ALT + DEL.Control Panel - Access it by clicking on Start and selecting Control Panel; or by going to Start>Run and typing "Control" without quotes.MS DOS/Command Prompt - Access it by going to Start>Run and typing "Cmd" without quotes. To close the prompt box, type "Exit" without quotes and press Enter.These tools are built into all versions of Windows XP. If you can't access them using the above methods then it's quite likely you have a bad install of WinXP. Run the System File Checker first (see System section), and if that fails reinstall XP (see Installation Issues section). DesktopThe following are a range of tweaks which relate to the Windows desktop, which is the area where your icons are displayed.
Remove text from desktop iconsTool: NoneRight click on the icon whose title you want to remove and select Rename. Instead of entering any characters in the text box, hold down the ALT key and type 255 (ALT + 2 + 5 + 5). Note you need to use the NUMPAD numbers for this to work (i.e. the numbers to the right of your arrow keys, not the ones at the top of the keyboard). When you release the ALT key the title will be blank, and you can press ENTER to accept this (blank titles are usually denied under Windows, but not this way). For every other icon for which you wish to remove the title, do the same as above, but for each subsequent icon you'll have to add a '255' to the end of the string you enter. That is, to blank a second icon name, you'll need to hold down ALT and type 255 then 255 again, then release ALT. For a third, you'll have to type ALT 255 255 255, and so on.Remove the box around desktop icon titlesTools: System PropertiesIf you followed my first XP Guide, you would have removed most fancy visual effects for maximum performance. However, if you've applied the 'Remove text from desktop icons' tweak above, and you still see a faint box where the text was (and you're fussy about things like that), you can remove that box by doing the following:1. Go to Control Panel>System>Advanced and click the Settings button under Performance.2. Put a tick against the Visual Effects tab and tick 'Use drop shadows for icon labels on the desktop'. Click OK.3. Check your desktop. The boxes should be gone, regardless of whether you removed the text or not. If they're still there, right click on the desktop, look under Arrange Icons By and make sure there's no tick against 'Lock Web Items on Desktop'.This effect is a virtually insignificant drain on performance, so re-enabling it won't do any major harm if you want a cleaner looking desktop, particularly if you've removed icon text labels. However hardcore performance nuts should leave it off as suggested in my first XP Guide.Create desktop icons for Shutdown or RestartTool: Create Shortcut WizardInstead of clicking Start>Turn Off Computer and selecting Shutdown or Restart, you can create desktop icons which automatically shutdown or restart your PC with just a double-click. This tweak makes use of the Shutdown.exe command to create a new shortcut as follows:Shutdown Icon1. Right click on an empty area on your desktop.2. Select New>Shortcut.3. In the first box of the Create Shortcut Wizard, type "Shutdown -s -t 00" (without quotes). Click Next.4. Call the shortcut something like "Shutdown PC" (without quotes) and click Finish.5. To add the finishing touch, right click on this new icon, select Properties, click the Change Icon button and select an appropriate icon.Reboot IconFollow the same steps as for the Shutdown Icon, but substitute the following steps in place of the corresponding ones above:3. In the first box of the Create Shortcut Wizard, type "Shutdown -r -t 00" (without quotes). Click Next.4. Call the shortcut something like "Restart PC" without quotes and click Finish.Note that double-clicking on these icons will shutdown or restart the PC straight away without any warning. If you want a countdown before a shutdown or restart, substitute a time in seconds in place of the '00' entries in the shortcut properties above (e.g. Shutdown -s -t 10 gives 10 seconds warning before shutting down). Also note that once the shutdown or restart process begins via an icon, it can't be aborted. If you want more command line switches which can be used with the shutdown command, open a command prompt and type "shutdown" (without quotes) to see the full list of switches.How much to upgrade to x64 Edition?

WinXP Tweaking: From Relax to Righteous - Desktop (Part 2)

Desktop (Continued)Create Desktop icon to lock the computerTool: Create Shortcut Wizard1. Right click on an empty area on your desktop.2. Select New>Shortcut.3. In the first box of the Create Shortcut Wizard, type "Rundll32.exe User32.dll,LockWorkStation" (without quotes). Note there is no space between the comma and LockWorkStation, which is also one word. Click Next.4. Call the shortcut something like "Lock PC" (without quotes) and click Finish.5. To add the finishing touch, right click on the new icon, select Properties, click the Change Icon button and select an appropriate icon.Now whenever you click this icon your PC will instantly be locked, and can only be accessed by the user entering a correct password in the Login box. Note you can also lock the computer at any time by press WINDOWS + L. Also note that if you have an account with no password, locking the desktop is a little pointless as anyone can login by just leaving the password field blank and clicking OK to log back in.Save desktop icon positionsTool: Two files from the MS Windows NT 4.0 Resource Kit (26KB). Download them from here.This is one of my favorite tweaks because I'm a real neatness freak about my desktop icons. Basically this tweak allows you to save the positions of your desktop icons, so you can restore the icons to their saved positions at any time in the future. To give you this added functionality in XP, do the following:1. Download the file from the link under Tools above, and extract the contents to an empty directory.2. Copy Layout.dll to the \Windows\System32 directory on the hard drive which contains Windows XP. 3. Double click on the Layout.reg file to automatically make the appropriate changes to your registry.4. Now go to your desktop and arrange the icons as you'd like them to be saved. 5. Once done, right click on the Recycle Bin and select 'Save Desktop Icon Layout'. The positions of all the icons are now saved. You can move the icons around freely, however whenever you want them restored to their original saved positions, right click on Recycle Bin again and select 'Restore Desktop Icon Layout'. Bingo!This is particularly handy if you're installing new graphics card drivers for example and your desktop icons get messed up, or you change resolutions and they get bumped around, or if you accidentally move an icon while trying to double click on it.Change desktop icon sizeTool: Regedit[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\WindowMetrics]Shell Icon Size=32 The value of this entry determines the size in pixels both for the height and width of desktop icons. The smaller the value, the smaller the desktop icon. Default value is 32, which is a 32 x 32 pixel icon. Create the entry as a new String if it doesn't exist, and reboot Windows (or use the Explorer trick under Before We Begin) to implement the new icon size.Set spacing between desktop iconsTool: Display PropertiesTo adjust the spaces between your desktop icons, you can manually move them. However if you've chosen automatic spacings (Right click on desktop and select Arrange Icons by>Auto Arrange) then you can adjust the vertical and horizontal spaces placed between each icon by right clicking on the desktop and choosing Properties to bring up the Display Properties box. Next select the Appearance tab, then the Advanced button. Under items select Icon Spacing (Horizontal) and Icon Spacing (Vertical) and edit the values to determine how many pixels are placed between the icons. The defaults are 43 pixels between icons. Smaller values squeeze them together, higher values spread them apart.Remove 'Shortcut to...' from new shortcutsTool: Regedit[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer]Link=00 00 00 00 If this entry doesn't exist, create it as a new Binary value, and set it equal to 00 00 00 00 to remove the 'Shortcut to...' prefix in front of new shortcuts. Reboot Windows (or use the Explorer trick under Before We Begin) to implement the change.Create a custom popup menu on the taskbarTool: Explorer, TaskbarTo put your favorite shortcuts all under one easy-to-access popup menu on the taskbar, do the following:1. Open Explorer and create a new folder wherever you like.2. Put shortcuts to all your favorite programs/pictures/documents/songs in this folder.3. Right-click on an empty area of your Taskbar, and choose Toolbars>New Toolbar. 4. In the New Toolbar dialog box, browse to where you created your new folder with all the shortcuts, highlight the folder and click OK.You will now have a new item on your Taskbar with the name of the folder you created earlier. Click on the double arrows just above its name and you'll get a popup menu of all the programs you can now quickly access. If you want to remove this folder from the Taskbar, right click on an empty area of the Taskbar and select Toolbars, and untick the folder's name from the list.Windows XP ThemesTool: Display Properties, Various Utilities and Guides.
One of the biggest benefits of Windows XP over other Windows versions is that you can customize the Graphical User Interface (GUI) or "skin" as much as you want. By default XP comes with 2 main skins or "Visual Styles" as Microsoft calls them - Windows Classic Style and Windows XP Style. You can choose either of these by going to Control Panel>Display Properties>Appearance and selecting either under the Windows and Buttons section. Note that you must have Themes enabled. Do this by going to Control Panel>System>Advanced, click the Settings button under Performance and on the Visual Effects tab make sure there's a tick next to 'Use visual styles on windows and buttons'.Microsoft has not made it easy to modify or install any styles beyond those it provides. You'll need special tools and some detailed information on how to download and install new themes, or to create your own. Rather than getting into those details here, I'll refer you to these websites which cover just that and much more, including a huge range of pre-made themes you can download and install:ThemeXP.orgXPTheme.infoWincustomize.comWindowsblinds.netThese are the best sites for Windows XP customization. For an excellent guide which takes you through the steps required to change your Windows Bootup screen, Login screen and GUI, try this recent WinXP Customizing Guide.How much to upgrade to x64 Edition?

WinXP Tweaking: From Relax to Righteous - Windows Explorer

Windows ExplorerEveryone uses Windows Explorer (Explorer for short) for basic everyday tasks such as copying, moving, renaming and deleting files on their PC. The following tweaks make using Explorer much quicker and easier. For starters if you want to open Explorer, the fastest way is to press the Windows Key (typically between ALT and CTRL on your keyboard) at the same time as the E key (WINDOWS + E).
Set Explorer's default startup folderTool: ExplorerIf you open Explorer from an icon, this tweak allows you to set which directory it will display by default upon opening:1. Right click on the icon you use to launch Explorer and select Properties.2. In the Target box of Properties type (or replace the existing text with) the following (without quotes):"%SystemRoot%\Explorer.exe /e, path"Where in place of path above you should enter the actual path to the directory you want open by default. For example C:\Windows, or C:\Documents and Settings, etc. The path also doesn't require quotes around it. 3. Click OK.Note that there are several other switches and options you can use to customize Explorer's default view. These are detailed in this: Microsoft Article.Rename multiple files at onceTool: ExplorerIf you have a large number of files you want to rename, you can do it rapidly by doing the following:1. Highlight the group of files you want to rename. You can do this two ways. The first way is to hold down the SHIFT key and click on the first file in the group, then still holding down shift click on the last file in the group and everything in between will be highlighted. The second way is to hold down the CTRL key and click on individual files you want to select until all the files you want are highlighted.2. Right-click on the first file you want to rename, and select Rename.3. Enter a name for the file and press ENTER. Now all the remaining highlighted files will be renamed as well with the same name and a number in brackets after it. For example, if I rename the first in a series of files "Screen.jpg" using this method, the remaining highlighted files will be renamed "Screen (1).jpg", "Screen (2).jpg" and so forth. Remove unwanted entries from context menusTool: Regedit
One of my biggest pet peeves is programs which insist on becoming a part of my context menus. A context menu is the little menu which pops up when you right click on objects, files, folders or icons. For example, right click on a desktop icon and if you have Norton Antivirus installed it will have 'Scan with Norton Antivirus' as a choice. I'm sure there are a lot of virused icons out there, thanks for the option guys.The first step to getting rid of these entries involves opening the programs in question and looking through their options to see if you can unselect any 'integration' or 'context menu' options they have. If that fails, and the program absolutely insists on being an intimate part of your Windows, you can edit the registry as follows:1. Before we make any changes in the registry, and even though you should have a full System Restore and/or Registry backup already, back up the registry keys which will be affected in this tweak: [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\*][HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory][HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Drive][HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Folder] 2. Do this by opening Regedit, find the relevant sub-folder, right-click on it and select Export. Make sure the "Selected Branch" option is selected under Export Range, then enter a descriptive name and save it somewhere safe. Do that for each one of the four sub-folders above. If anything goes wrong, instead of firing up System Restore or restoring the entire registry you can double-click on these files and everything is quickly fixed.3. Now, go to the following sub-folders and delete references to programs you know have set up offending context menu entries. For example, in my system under [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\*\shellex\ContextMenuHandlers] I found the key Symantec.Norton.Antivirus.IEContextMenu which I deleted. The first volley in the war against the invasion of my menus by Symantec. Here are all the places you should look in:[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\*\OpenWithList][HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\*\shellex\ContextMenuHandlers][HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\shell][HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\shellex\ContextMenuHandlers][HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Drive\shell][HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Drive\shellex\ContextMenuHandlers][HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Folder\shell][HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Folder\shellex\ContextMenuHandlers]4. As you're removing all the unwanted program entries, you should see the effects immediately - no reboot required. Remove an entry from the [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Drive\shellex\ContextMenuHandlers] subfolder for example and open Explorer, then right click on your hard drive name and you should see the corresponding program you removed in the registry is gone from the context menu too. When you're done, you should see the default context menus devoid of the added rubbish.
If any of the programs whose context menu entries you've removed start displaying strange behaviour, restore the registry entries you backed up previously, or just reinstall the program. As long as you only delete program entries and none of the default Windows entries, all the normal context menu items will still remain.Folder views not being savedTool: RegeditSometimes you'll change a folder view, its position, or one of the folder's display options and upon rebooting the changes haven't been saved. The first thing to do is go to Control Panel>Folder Options and under the View tab make sure that 'Remember each folder's view settings' is ticked.However even with this setting ticked you'll wind up with unsaved settings - I know from personal experience. Before using this tweak, every time I opened Control Panel it would show Details view and not Icons view, no matter how many times I changed it back to Icon view. The way to fix this problem is to open Regedit and go to the following sub-folders:[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\ShellNoRoam\BagMRU][HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\ShellNoRoam\Bags]Right-click on each one (i.e. BagMRU and Bags) and select Delete to get rid of both of them. Reboot your PC and set up each of your folders as you like it. These settings should now be saved and restored on the next reboot. By deleting the registry entries above Windows is forced to recreate them and in doing so get rid of corruption and bad entries, typically caused by third-party programs.How much to upgrade to x64 Edition?

WinXP Tweaking: From Relax to Righteous - Windows Explorer (Part 2)

Windows Explorer (Continued)Move the My Documents folderTool: Start MenuBy default the My Documents folder is in a specified location, and can't be moved easily. To place the My Documents folder in another location, do the following:1. Open the Start Menu (click on Start), right-click on My Documents and select Properties. If you're having problems getting the context menu, right-click elsewhere on the Start Menu then right-click again on My Documents.2. Click the Move button and select a new location. Click OK.3. Choose whether you wish to move your existing documents across to this location.Alternatively you can just type the new path in the Target box. When you're done, Windows will now recognise the new location as the home of My Documents.Make the My Documents folder privateTool: Explorer
If you want to password protect your My Documents folder, or in fact any folder which is unique to your user account (such as My Photos, Favorites, Desktop, Start Menu), and you're using the NTFS file system, you can do the following: Right-click on the folder in Explorer, select the Sharing tab and tick the 'Make this folder private' box. Now the folder and all its subdirectories will be password protected with your user password.If you're logged in as the Administrator, or you've set no user password for speedy logon to Windows XP, this tweak is not particularly useful. If you try it, you'll be prompted to set a password, and unless you're worried about others accessing your private folders, it's not worth the additional effort if you're the only user.Make a slideshow screensaverTool: Display PropertiesTo make a customizable slideshow screensaver from the pictures on your drive, do the following:1. Go to Control Panel>Display Properties and select the Screensaver tab.2. Under the screen saver list, select 'My Pictures slideshow'.3. Click the Settings button.4. By default the slideshow will use the pictures in your My Pictures folder and subdirectories. You can set the location for the pictures it uses by clicking the Browse button and choosing a new path.5. Customize how long you want each picture to display before changing, and also how large the pictures are to be. Make sure you tick the 'Allow scrolling through pictures with the keyboard' option. Click OK.6. You can either select the Preview button to start the slideshow straight away or set the time before the screensaver starts. Once it starts, you can use the left and right arrows on your keyboard to move through the pictures or wait the specified time for each new picture.Change the default location for Programs and Common FilesTool: Regedit[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion]CommonFilesDir=C:\Program Files\Common Files Change this entry to another path if you want to change where Windows points to by default when installing common files for programs. ProgramFilesDir=C:\Program Files Change this entry to another path if you want to change where Windows points to by default when installing new programs. Reboot Windows (or use the Explorer trick under Before We Begin) to bring the changes into effect. Use this tweak with caution as it may cause problems with existing programs and play havoc with file associations.Force every column in Explorer-based windows to be visibleTool: ExplorerSometimes when you open Explorer, or explorer-based interfaces (and there are many, such as Regedit) there may be columns which are way too large or way too small to show everything they contain. To force Windows to resize these columns appropriately, press the CTRL key and the + (plus) key together. This will instantly resize the columns so that the largest value in each column is visible. This may require you to expand the Window's size or use the scroll bar to see them all, but at least there won't be any hidden or too large/too small columns.How much to upgrade to x64 Edition?

WinXP Tweaking: From Relax to Righteous - Internet Explorer 6

Internet Explorer 6
While some people use different internet browsers such as Netscape or Opera, Internet Explorer (IE) is still the most popular browser, and for the most part is quite good. It does have a few quirks and problems which need to be fixed now and then, but that's what tweak guides are for, right? Note that these tweaks have been tested and work on Internet Explorer 6 with IE SP1 and all updates. If you haven't got the latest version of Internet Explorer along with all its updates, I urge you to use Windows Update to download and install these important files. Older versions of IE have security weaknesses and problems which are resolved with the latest version and associated patches.Basic Internet Explorer settingsTool: Internet Explorer 6 with IE SP1 and all Updates.This tweak covers the basic settings of Internet Explorer which should be optimized for efficient, trouble-free browsing. Open the options box by going into Internet Explorer>Tools>Internet Options. Below are my recommendations for the important settings under each tab of Internet Options. General
Under the Temporary Internet Files section select the Settings button. Under the 'Check for newer versions of stored pages' section select 'Every visit to the page' to make sure you're seeing the latest internet content for every page you visit. Assign around 30MB of disk space or even less for the Temporary internet files folder. Don't set this to zero, however keep the size small for fastest browsing. A cache which is much too large, aside from taking up disk space, may actually end up making sites longer to load. Click OK to close.Under the History section, set Days to 1 or 2 days at most to reduce wasted disk space. If you don't want a history of the sites you visit to be kept at all, click the Clear History button and set Days to 0.SecurityI recommend at least the Medium level of security. Any higher is up to you, but bear in mind this will prevent some websites from functioning as designed. This can be a good thing if the website is harmful or annoying, but it can also be bad if the website has genuinely useful interactive function which is being blocked. If you want to be on the safe side, click the Custom Level button and manually select each security function. For any which are dubious I suggest you select Prompt and try out your favorite sites to see which site triggers what function and adjust further from there.Privacy
Just like Security settings above, I recommend the Medium level for the best security/functionality compromise. You can click the Advanced button and override automatic cookie handling. Third party cookies can be blocked without any major issues, as these are usually from advertisers. First party cookies on the other hand can be useful (e.g for forums), and blocking them can impair a site's functionality. If you do decide to block all first party cookies, click the Edit button under the Websites area. This will allow you to block or allow specific website's cookies. For example, if you set a High or Very High privacy setting this will block almost all cookies, but you can still allow TweakTown's cookies by adding it to the list of allowed sites. Microsoft has a detailed run-through of the privacy features new to Internet Explorer 6 here. I suggest you look through it and decide for yourself how private you want to be and in what ways.ContentIf enabled, the Content Advisor allows you to attempt to filter out and control access to websites which use offensive material/language. The settings here are obviously determined by tastes and tolerances, but for most adults I don't see why Content Advisor needs to be enabled.Certificates are quite important, but also too complex to get into here. The best thing to do is to click on the Certificates button, and under Intended Purpose select All. Now use the small arrows just below that box to scroll across to the Trusted Publishers tab. Make sure the entries in this box (e.g Microsoft Corporation) are companies you know and have actually chosen to trust. Double click on the certificate to see more details. Highlight a certificate and click Remove if you don't trust it.Click the Autocomplete button next. Autocomplete can be useful, but if you have several users on one PC, it can be very dangerous, as others can accidentally or intentionally see which websites you've visited, what data you've entered on forms, and even what your username and password is on sites which require login (such as forums). If you have multiple users on a PC, untick all forms of autocomplete and click the Clear Forms and Clear Passwords button as well for maximum safety. If you're the only user, I recommend using autocomplete.ConnectionsSet up all information in this box as provided by your Internet Service Provider (ISP). ProgramsSet programs used to taste. If Internet Explorer is your default browser and you don't have any other browsers installed, untick the 'Internet Explorer should check to see whether it is the default browser' option. Having it ticked will only increase IE's startup time, and is unnecessary. Note if you press the Reset Web Settings button it set everything back to the IE defaults. Use it as a quick way of undoing any changes to the settings above.AdvancedMost of the settings can be set to taste. My recommendations for important settings are:Automatically check for Internet Explorer Updates - Untick (use Windows Update instead)Disable script debugging - UntickDisplay a notification about every script error - UntickEnable Install on Demand (both Internet Explorer and Other) - TickEnable Third Party Browser Extensions - Tick Show Pictures - TickEmpty Temporary Internet Files folder when browser is closed - UntickUse SSL 2.0 - TickUse SSL 3.0 - TickWarn about invalid site certificates - TickWarn if forms submittal is being redirected - TickThat covers the basics of Internet Explorer settings.Repair Internet Explorer 6Tool: Internet Explorer 6, System File CheckerIf you're having a lot of problems with Internet Explorer, the first thing to do is to repair IE. This is the quickest way of fixing problems, and usually involves a reinstall of Internet Explorer. There are several methods to do this:System File CheckerThe first method involves using the System File Checker. Note that this requires you to have your Windows XP CD handy.1. Go to Start>Run and type "SFC /Scannow" (without quotes). 2. The System File Checker will go through all your important system files and make sure they're as provided by Microsoft, and haven't been corrupted or tampered with. You will be prompted to insert your Windows XP CD to access some of the original XP files. You can skip this each time XP asks, but this will likely result in a failed repair, so I recommend you do as required and insert the CD.3. If prompted to reboot your PC, reboot as required. The next time you open Internet Explorer your problems should be fixed.Note System File Checker checks all your MS files, not just the IE-related ones, so it's a good method to repair your Windows installation if you suspect corrupted/tampered files (see Installation Issues section).Add/Remove Programs
The second method involves uninstall and reinstalling Internet Explorer. You can't just delete the IE files and Internet Explorer directory, or find an entry for IE under Add/Remove programs to do that. You need to do the following:1. Go to Control Panel>Add/Remove Programs.2. Click on the Add/Remove Windows Components button on the left sidebar.3. Untick Internet Explorer and click Next. Follow the prompts and IE will be uninstalled.4. Now to reinstall IE, go through steps 1-2 above, but this time place a tick next to Internet Explorer to reinstall it. You may be prompted for your Windows XP CD, which you should use to complete the process. Now you'll have a fresh install of Internet Explorer, hopefully free of errors.If you continue to experience problems with Internet Explorer, try other Internet Explorer tweaks from this or my previous XP Guide. At least you can be more certain by doing the above that it's not file corruption or tampering of system files by a virus, malicious script or third party program.How much to upgrade to x64 Edition?

WinXP Tweaking: From Relax to Righteous - Internet Explorer 6 (Part 2)

Internet Explorer 6 (Continued)Fix Internet Explorer window behaviourTool: Internet ExplorerThere are two separate issues involving opening IE Windows: The size of the first IE window you open, and the size of subsequent IE windows opened, for example, when clicking on a hyperlink. To change the default size of Internet Explorer windows, look under the relevant section below:Default size of the first IE windowTo determine the size of the window which opens the first time you launch Internet Explorer, you'll need to configure the Internet Explorer shortcut you use. If you use the default IE desktop icon, or the one in the Start Menu, they can't be configured to do this. Follow steps 1-3 below to create a new shortcut, and steps 4 - 6 to configure the default window behaviour:1. Right-click on the Internet Explorer desktop icon and select Create Shortcut. A new shortcut will be created with something like "Internet Explorer (2)" as the name. 2. Go to Control Panel>Display Properties and select the Desktop tab.3. Click the Customize Desktop icon, select the General tab, and under Desktop Icons untick Internet Explorer. This will remove the original Internet Explorer desktop icon, leaving you with the shortcut you just created. Rename this shortcut to "Internet Explorer" (without quotes).4. Right-click on the Internet Explorer shortcut and select Properties.5. Under the Shortcut tab, select Maximized from the Run box to run IE as a maximized window each time you start it. Alternatively, select Minimized if you want it minimized on start up, or select Normal Window if you want a custom size. Click Ok.6. If you've selected Normal Window in the Run box, to select the default size for IE, open IE and resize and position the window however you like it. The next time you open IE from this shortcut it will open exactly the same size and in the same position.Copy this Internet Explorer shortcut to other places in place of existing ones (such as on your Start Menu) if you want to guarantee that these settings are used every time you open Internet Explorer.Default size of subsequent IE windowsNow that we've set the initial Internet Explorer window size, another annoyance is the size of the window which opens when you click on a hyperlink (or SHIFT + Click on a link), or go to File>New>Window (or press CTRL + N). You can set the default size for this window by doing the following:1. Start Internet Explorer, and open a web page with visible hyperlinks.2. Left-click on a hyperlink while holding down the SHIFT button - this guarantees that it will open in a new IE window. Alternatively open a new window by going to File>New and selecting Window.3. Now hold down the SHIFT key and resize this window however you like it. If you want to size it so it fills the entire screen, don't use the maximize button, resize it manually until it's the same size as a maximized window.4. Still holding SHIFT, click on the File menu and select Close - don't use the close button on the top right corner of the window.Internet Explorer should now remember the size and position of any new windows each time you open them. Note that if your system isn't saving windows sizes/positions after a reboot, use the 'Folder views not being saved' tweak under the Windows Explorer section.There are utilities available which can force IE to open every window maximized, such as Autosizer, but I'm not a big fan of these because they have to sit in the background to do their job and hence take up system resources, and may cause conflicts - all for the sake of something which you can fix for all intents and purposes by doing the above.Set the default Internet Explorer download directoryTool: Regedit[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer ]Download Directory=C:\Downloads Specifies the default directory where IE will save downloaded files. Change the path to wherever you want the new default to be. If this entry doesn't exist, create it as a String and assign the appropriate path. Reboot or use the Explorer trick to bring the changes into effect.Remove the Link folder in FavoritesTool: Regedit[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Toolbar]LinksFolderName=Links If you want to get rid of the annoying Links folder in Favorites for good (and not just hide it), edit this string so that it equals a blank value. Now go into Favorites and delete the Links folder and it won't reappear again. Reboot or use the Explorer trick to bring the changes into effect.Disable the Search AssistantTool: Regedit[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main]Use Search Asst=No When you click the Search button in Internet Explorer (the magnifying glass) or press CTRL + E, this brings up the Search Companion sidebar. To use the custom Google sidebar (see below) and get rid of the somewhat annoying default interface, turn off Search Assistant by setting this entry to No.Note, the Main key may not exist in your registry, so right click on the Internet Explorer entry in Regedit, and select New>Key, and call it "Main" (without quotes). You will then have to create a new String value called "Use Search Asst" (without quotes), double click on it once created and give it the value "No" (without quotes).Change Internet Explorer Search Assistant to GoogleTool: Regedit
[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main]Search Page= Bar=[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search]SearchAssistant= you click the Search button in Internet Explorer (the magnifying glass) or press CTRL + E to bring up the Search sidebar, if you've disabled the default Search Assistant interface (see above tweak), you can customize the sidebar to have a nifty Google search interface instead. That way you don't get the "sponsored links" rubbish the default interface shows you, as well as that dopey dog which needs to be put to sleep in my opinion. Change all of the registry entries above to implement this tweak. If any of the above registry entries don't exist, create them as new Strings and set their values to the addresses above. You can see the effects of this tweak straight away in Internet Explorer without a reboot.Change Internet Explorer Address Bar search engineTool: Regedit[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search]CustomizeSearch= [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchUrl]Provider=goglYou can perform an Internet search by entering a word in the Internet Explorer Address Bar. This will work if under IE you go to Tools>Internet Options>Advanced and have either 'Just display results in the main window' or 'Display results, and go to the most likely site' selected under the 'Search from the Address Bar' section.By default however, Internet Explorer will use the Microsoft Network (MSN) search engine to perform the search and show the results. To use another search engine, such as the much better Google engine, make the changes shown above. If either entry doesn't exist, create it as a new String value. For the Provider value which sets the Address Bar search engine, you can set it two ways:1. Go to Search in Internet Explorer and click the Customize button, then click the Autosearch Settings button. Select your Address Bar search engine provider there.2. Edit the above 'Provider=' registry entry and use the following values to select your provider:Msn for MSN (default)Gogl for GoogleYaho for YahooAlta for AltavistaAols for AOLLksm for LookSmartAskj for Ask JeevesNets for NetscapeInfs for InfoSpaceSeveral things to note here. Once you've applied this tweak, you may have problems searching from the address bar if you use a proxy or have any firewall software - disable them if you want to use this feature. Also note that whichever provider you choose for the search bar, the search will still be processed through MSN first, which will then pass the search to the chosen search engine and show the results in that engine.Problems with the Temporary Internet Files folderTool: Command PromptIf you're having problems with Internet Explorer, such as freezes or laggy behaviour, it's likely that the Temporary Internet Files folder is the culprit. If you've tried to delete files from there or even tried moving or deleting the entire folder itself this will trigger problematic behaviour in IE. To resolve this problem, do the following:1. Reboot your PC and make sure you don't open Internet Explorer or Windows Explorer, or anything which accesses them.2. Go to Start>Run and type "Cmd" without quotes. This will open a Command Prompt.3. Type "CD\" at the prompt (without quotes) to take you to the root directory.4. Open Windows Task Manager (CTRL-ALT-DEL) and under the Processes tab highlight the Explorer process and click End Process. The desktop will vanish, but this is normal.5. Go back to the command prompt, and copy or type the following text (with the quotes) into the command prompt and press ENTER:del "%userprofile%\local settings\temporary internet files\content.ie5\"6. Answer "Y" when prompted if you want to delete the file.7. Go to the Windows Task Manager again and click on the File Menu and choose "New Task (Run)..." and type "Explorer" (without quotes) and hit ENTER. This will reload the desktop.Doing the above will delete the Index.dat file which lies in your Temporary Internet Files folder and in doing so it will be recreated with the correct references to your cached internet files the next time you open Internet Explorer. Any strange IE behaviour should be resolved. If not, delete all your internet files by going into Internet Explorer>Tools>Internet Options and select the Delete Files, Delete Cookies and Clear History buttons, then retry steps 1-7 above again.Restrict websites from installing softwareTool: Regedit[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\InternetSettings\ZoneMap\Domains][] Create a new subfolder. To do this, highlight the Domains key in the left pane of Regedit, and in the right pane right-click in an empty area and choose New Key. Enter the base address of the site to be restricted as the key name, e.g. "" (without the quotes).*=4 In the new subfolder create a new Dword simply called *. Assign it a value of 4, which will tell Internet Explorer to prevent this domain (and everything within it) from installing any software on your machine.This tweak is useful in blocking particular sites which attempt to install special cursors or the like on your machine without your permission.How much to upgrade to x64 Edition?

WinXP Tweaking: From Relax to Righteous - Outlook Express 6

Outlook Express 6
Outlook Express 6, which is not to be confused with the full version called Outlook, is a great little email/newsgroup program. It should meet all your basic email needs, but it also has some useful built-in features people rarely get around to configuring or using. This section covers the main Outlook Express tweaks. Note, if you don't have Outlook Express 6, use Windows Update to upgrade to this version and also make sure you've installed all the Critical Patches for it.Basic Outlook Express 6 settingsTool: Outlook Express 6 with SP1 and all UpdatesThis tweak covers the basic settings of Outlook Express which should be optimized for efficient, trouble-free use. Open the options box by going into Outlook Express>Tools>Options. Below are my recommendations for the important settings under each tab of Options. The remaining settings not covered can be set to suit your taste:General
When starting go directly to my Inbox folder - Tick to skip the Outlook Express entry page.Automatically Log on to Windows Messenger - Untick if you don't use Windows Messenger.Note, you should refer to the Registry Editor section of my first WinXP Guide for details on how to permanently disable Messenger and fix the subsequent Outlook Express "slowdown" issue.ReadAutomatically download message when viewing in the preview pane - Untick for security and virus safety reasons. Read all messages in plain text - Tick this option if you want maximum security. All emails will display in plain text and there will be no active content in emails. This may cause some emails to display incorrectly. Note this option is only available if you've installed XP SP1.ReceiptsI personally don't like sending (or receiving for that matter) read receipts. They can be quite annoying. Whether you want to send them is up to you, but for the 'Returning Read Receipts' section I recommend selecting 'Notify me for each read receipt request'. That way you know when someone's sent an email to you with a receipt request, and you can choose whether to accept the request when you open the email or not. Secure receipts are similar, but might be more useful if you're sending a very important message and you want to make sure a) the recipient has opened the message; and b) the message arrived at the other end unaltered. Otherwise the same settings apply.SendSend messages immediately - Tick so your emails are sent straight away.Automatically put people I reply to in my Address Book - Untick for security reasons, such as when a virus hits your machine and emails all the people in your Address Book. The less contacts you have the better. Manually enter people you want to keep in your Address Book instead.Compose, Signatures, SpellingAll can be set to your taste. If you want to know what any of these features do, right click on them and click 'What's this', or press F1 for Help.Security
The new security features in Outlook Express are excellent in protecting against most viruses and malicious code sent in emails. However you need to know how they work and configure them correctly. Here's what I recommend:You can select either the Internet Zone or Restricted Sites Zone for your default email behaviour. When in Internet Zone mode, HTML-based emails with active content will display their content just like a web page in IE. In fact the security settings you chose under the Security tab in Internet Explorer Options also apply to Internet Zone email content. When in Restricted Sites Zone mode, Outlook Express will disable active content from HTML-based emails, which is much more secure, but reduces email functionality. In most cases I recommend running Outlook Express in Restricted Sites Zone mode, as most HTML-based emails nowadays are spam, or worse still malicious or viruses.Warn me when other applications try to send email as me - Tick this setting. It will protect you from having email sent from any of your accounts without your knowledge (e.g. through a script).Do not allow attachments to be saved or opened that could potentially be a virus - Tick this option for everyday use. This will protect you against attachments, the vast bulk of which are dangerous, unsolicited email viruses. It will not download or open such attachments. If you receive an attachment from an address you don't know, never open it! For example Microsoft will NEVER email you an update or patch. If you receive an attachment from an address you know, it may well be a virus which was auto-mailed from that user's account, so double-check with the sender if you're unsure if it's a genuine attachment. Then open Options and untick this setting, and you should be able to access the attachment in the email for saving.Certain file types, such as Executable (.exe) files are automatically blocked with this setting enabled. To configure which other types of files are affected when this setting is ticked, go to Control Panel>Folder Options>File Types, highlight a file extension and click the Advanced button. Select 'Confirm open after download' to add the file type to the unsafe file list which Outlook Express uses to block attachments when this setting is enabled. Remember some file types are on the unsafe list and cannot be taken off (like .exe).ConnectionUses the same settings as Internet Explorer, so see the Internet Explorer section.MaintenanceSet these options to taste. I recommend the following to reduce wasted disk space:Empty message from the Deleted Items folder on exit - Tick.Purge deleted items when leaving IMAP folders - Tick.Compact messages in background - Tick.Compact messages when there is X% wasted space - Set to 10%.Clean Up Now - Click and select Compact to reduce existing wasted space immediately.Store Folder - This is important as it will apply to the next tweak, so see below for more information.That's the basics of tweaking Outlook Express. The next two tweaks deal with simple yet effective things you can do with Outlook Express.How much to upgrade to x64 Edition?

WinXP Tweaking: From Relax to Righteous - Outlook Express 6 (Continued)

Outlook Express 6 (Continued)Backup and Restore emails in Outlook ExpressTool: Outlook ExpressBacking up emailsIf you want to back up the emails you've saved in Outlook Express, and restore them later on, follow these procedures:1. Open Outlook Express, go to Tools>Options and open the Maintenance tab. 2. Click the Store Folder button and highlight the directory path shown with your mouse (right-click on the text and choose Select All). 3. Right-click again on the highlighted text and select Copy. 4. Go to Start>Run and right-click in the box. Select Paste, then click OK. This opens an Explorer window in the folder where Outlook Express holds your emails and email folders as .dbx files.5. The folder names should be self-explanatory. Select individual .dbx files where you stored emails and copy them to another location for backup purposes.
Restoring emailsTo restore these emails back into Outlook Express, say after a reformat of Windows, follow these procedures:1. Open Outlook Express, go to File>Import>Messages.2. Select 'Microsoft Outlook Express 6' from the list (or whichever version of OE you saved the messages under).3. Select 'Import mail from an OE6 store directory' and click OK.4. Browse to the directory where you backed up your Outlook Express messages as .dbx files. Click OK, then click Next.5. Click All Folders, select Next, then select Finish. Your messages should be restored as you saved them.You can also use the Import and Export functions in Outlook Express to save and restore your Address Book, Email account and Newsgroup account data. These aren't detailed here, but the procedure is similar to that outlined above.Block spam with Outlook Express built-in featuresTool: Outlook Express
Outlook Express has some useful features for blocking spam emails. Spam is unsolicited email with useless content...if you live on Earth you would have received some by now. These built-in features can be used to sort mail automatically and ignore/block individuals for example. Note that these tools don't work for IMAP and HTTP (i.e. Web-based) email accounts such as Hotmail. Use these tools for your POP3 accounts (i.e. non-webmail based), such as the ones your ISP provides, or Yahoo when set up as POP3.To access and set up these tools do the following:1. Open Outlook Express and go to Tools>Message Rules and select Mail.2. Click the New button to create a new rule. The New Mail Rule window will open.3. Select a condition for your rule. For example, we'll choose 'Where the message is more than size'. We can set the size parameter for this rule in Step 5. 4. Select the action for the rule. For example, 'Move it to the specified folder'. 5. Set any parameters required for the rule by clicking on the blue underline text in the Rule Description box. For example, we'll click on the Size text and choose 40KB as our size limit for the rule set up in step 3. We'll click on the Folder text and choose Deleted Items.6. Give the rule an appropriate name, such as 'Large email redirector' in this example. Click OK.7. In the Mail Rules window, put a tick next to the new rule and click the Apply Now button. If you want to add more parameters or change the rule, click the Modify button, and go back through steps 3 - 6 above until you're happy.8. Create as many rules as you like, and arrange them in order of priority/application to new messages by using the Move Up and Move Down buttons.Now when you receive an email, the above rule will automatically check its size and if it's over 40KB, will redirect it to your Deleted Items folder automatically. You can have a quick look in there after checking your mail and see if it's anything you want to keep, otherwise just empty the deleted items and you've cleared some hefty spam straight away.Create more rules once you identify patterns in your email. For example I was getting a lot of spam emails with phony virus screensavers attached. So I set up a new rule which automatically deletes from my mail server (so I don't even download them) any emails with 'Screensaver' in the message body. Worked a treat too! Eventually they stopped, so I deleted the rule.Of course you can do a lot more with Message Rules, such as block individuals, accounts from particular domains (such as MSN, Yahoo or AOL), etc. Experiment with the tool as it is very powerful. If in doubt, set the action for the rule to redirect flagged mail to a separate folder you set up and see if any legitimate mail is getting caught up by the rule. Also, create multiple rules to finely sift through the mail and get rid of the genuine rubbish.How much to upgrade to x64 Edition?

WinXP Tweaking: From Relax to Righteous - Windows Update

Windows UpdateTool: Windows Update
Windows Update is an essential component of Windows, and for that reason alone, deserves its own section. If you followed my first XP Guide (please tell me you did...), we turned off Automatic Updating as it is both annoying and unnecessary. However you should regularly run the Windows Update tool manually (or click this link and add it to your Favorites). Without the latest updates, especially those released in SP1 (see Installation Issues section), Windows XP has several known problems which can make life difficult for you. Be smart and keep your machine right up to date by downloading and installing all the Windows Critical Updates and Service Packs.In this section we cover a common problem people have, and that's the inability to access the Windows Update site, strange messages when they try, or freezing while Windows Updates scans for available updates. The main resolution is below.Please note that if you're running a pirated copy of Windows XP, Windows Update will most likely not work for you because your copy is pirated. This is by design, and the fix below will not help you. I suggest you purchase a legitimate copy as Windows XP will not function properly without regular security and performance patches being applied to your system.Fixing Windows UpdateTool: Internet Explorer, Windows ExplorerThe best way to fix Windows Update so that it behaves as normal is effectively to uninstall all its components from your machine and allow it to reinstall. You can do this by following all of the procedures below in sequence:1. Reboot your PC and don't open Windows Update.2. Go to Internet Explorer>Tools>Internet Options and click on the Delete Cookies and Delete Files (tick 'Delete all offline content') buttons. Click OK to finish and close Internet Explorer.3. Open Windows Explorer, and go to your Windows Update folder, typically C:\Program Files\WindowsUpdate. Delete the folder and all subfolders and contents.4. Still in Windows Explorer, go to your Windows Update Temporary folder, typically C:\WUTemp. Delete the folder and all subfolders and contents. Note that you can delete this folder any time in the future after a Windows Update session and a reboot. Close Windows Explorer.5. Click on Start>Run and type "REGSVR32 IUCTL.DLL /U" (without quotes) and click OK. Click OK again when done. 6. Go to Start>Search, select All Files and Folders and type in "IUCTL.DLL" (without quotes) in the top search box, then Press ENTER. Delete every instance of this file found - highlight the files in the right pane and press DEL. 7. Repeat step 6 for "IUENGINE.DLL" (without quotes) and delete all entries found again.8. Reboot your PC. Open Windows Update and Windows will redownload the Windows Update software and everything should be fine from there.Note if your icon doesn't work for accessing Windows Update, use this link. The difference is this link is a secure (HTTPS, not HTTP) website link. Add it to your Favorites if other methods of access don't work.How much to upgrade to x64 Edition?

WinXP Tweaking: From Relax to Righteous - System

SystemIn my first Windows XP Guide I also have a section entitled System which covers the major performance tweaks accessible from the Control Panel>System Properties area of Windows. In this guide, this section builds on that information with more system-related tweaks, resources and references which can help you troubleshoot problems and improve performance and functionality a little bit more.Removing Unused Old DevicesTool: Command PromptIf your Windows installation is fairly old, or you've changed a few devices on your system, you will have a number of entries for old devices which are no longer being used held in your registry. To remove these, follow the instructions below. Note that this tweak can be dangerous if you remove the wrong device, so use with caution and create a System Restore point before proceeding.First open a Command Prompt by going to Start>Run and typing "cmd" (without quotes). Once the MS DOS prompt is open, type the following lines, pressing return after each:Set devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1Devmgmt.mscIn the Device Manager window that opens go to the View menu and select "Show Hidden Devices". Now start looking through all the devices. Devices in grey are usually old/unused and safe to remove by right clicking on each one and selecting "Uninstall". Note that you should make absolutely certain the device is no longer being used, and that you should not remove any Microsoft devices such as those under the Sound section. Again, use with caution and if you're unsure, don't delete the device.Device Manager Error CodesTool: System Properties
To access Device Manager, go to Control Panel>System>Hardware and click on the Device Manager button. Device Manager is invaluable in showing you all your PC components and allowing you to see their state, and change settings and drivers in one interface. If there is a problem with a device, it might have a red X next to it in which case the device is disabled. You can double-click on the device (or right-click on it and select Properties) and in the General tab under Device Usage click the Enable Device button. It's useful to manually disable devices you don't use to free up system resources, and speed up bootup into Windows. Disable devices in the BIOS first if possible, as this is more effective and can help free up IRQs (See Troubleshooting IRQs below).If you can't reenable the device, or it has a yellow exclamation mark next to it, the device is having an error of some kind. Double-click on the device name and under the General tab, you'll see the error in the Device Status box. To determine more information about the error, use the following Microsoft resource: Device Manager Error CodesTo resolve the most commonly encountered problems, follow the relevant tweak/solution below.Unmountable Boot VolumeFull Solution: Here.In summary, either use the correct cable for your hard drive (special 80-pin cabling), or turn off UDMA in Device Manager. Alternatively, if that doesn't work reboot from your Windows XP CD, press R at the Startup screen and type "Chkdsk /R" (without quotes) in the Recovery Console (see Recovery Console below).CDR/DVD/CDROM Not Working or DisappearedFull Solution: Here.In summary open Regedit, and go to:[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Class\{4D36E965-E325-11CE-BFC1-08002BE10318}]LowerFilters= Delete this entry.UpperFilters= Delete this entry.Reboot your PC and your drives should reappear. If your CD Burning software then functions incorrectly, reinstall it. If possible update your CD burning/extraction software to the latest version so as not to go through the same problem again.IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUALFull Solution: Here.In summary, use the instructions in the link above to check to see which address range is being referenced in the error, and which driver or device is using that range using Device Manager. This error typically occurs for most people when they overclock their system too far, or have an unstable overclock, or have badly installed or poor beta drivers. If for example you find the device being referenced in the error is your graphics card, then turn down the overclock on the card, cool it better, or update your drivers using a "clean install". Overclocking tips, instructions on how to stability-test your overclock, and how to update and clean install your drivers are all in my System Optimization Guide.DRIVER_IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUALFull Solution: Here.In summary, this error is similar to the IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL error above. Check the referenced memory address, and in this case it is highly likely to be a driver at fault, as the error name suggests. Update the driver using the "clean install" method, and if that doesn't work, switch back to an older driver. This error can also be caused by overclocking too far, so the same tips as for the IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL error above also apply here.PAGE_FAULT_IN_NONPAGED_AREAFull Solution: Here.In summary, the error is typically caused by a component of your memory subset, such as the L2 Cache, RAM, Video Memory, or even Virtual Memory/File Caches. If any of these components are overclocked, turn down the overclock. Check your RAM timings (see the System Optimization Guide for more information on this also) and make sure you follow the recommendations in my first WinXP Guide on correct Virtual Memory and Cache settings.This error can also occur due to system-intensive/intrusive software like firewalls, Antivirus and trojan scanners, particularly those running in the background, etc. Running a Norton Antivirus scan while overclocked for example may trigger this error.Long Black Screen on BootupFull Solution: Here.In summary, you'll need to follow the instructions in the link above (and see Recovery Console section below) to open the Recovery Console and type "FDISK /MBR" (without quotes) to fix the Master Boot Record. Make sure you're not infected with a virus before doing this.How much to upgrade to x64 Edition?

WinXP Tweaking: From Relax to Righteous - System (Part 2)

System (Continued)Troubleshooting IRQsA general explanation of IRQs in Windows XP by Microsoft can be found: Here.Interrupt Requests (IRQs) are the way in which all of your major system devices get the CPU's attention for instructions/interaction as often as necessary. There are 16 IRQs (0 - 15) in most PCs, although some newer PCs have 23 or more IRQs. Each IRQ has a priority assigned to it as to which gets the CPU's attention first if several are competing at once. It is easy to imagine that while Windows is designed to allow several devices to share an IRQ, you may have problems or reduced performance if two or more major devices (such as sound card and graphics card) share an IRQ.Under Windows XP, as the MS article above explains, ACPI (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface)-compliant systems - which is most modern PCs - will have their IRQs automatically allocated by Windows. Even if you manually assign them in the BIOS, Windows XP will reassign them again. So let's examine the IRQs more closely and see what exactly we can do under these conditions to prevent/resolve IRQ sharing and conflicts.IRQ AssignmentsThe default assignments for 16 IRQs under Windows XP are:
The IRQs marked RESERVED cannot be changed by the user, and are the same on most systems. These IRQs are pretty much taken, so don't even think about trying to get another device on them.The IRQs marked AVAILABLE may already be taken up by specific devices (where indicated in the brackets) if these devices are present and not disabled. For example, most people have 2 IDE Channels enabled, the Primary IDE Channel for their hard drive and first CD-ROM, and the Secondary IDE Channel for another hard drive, and/or for CD/DVD/CDRW Drives. If on the other hand you don't use the Secondary IDE Channel at all, and disable it in the BIOS (see below), then you can release IRQ 15 for another device. The same with the Serial Ports and Parallel Port for example.If you want to reallocate your IRQs because several major devices are sharing, first do your maths. Of the total number of IRQs, at least 8 are reserved and cannot be taken. That leaves you with 8 IRQs free at most if you have 16 IRQs, or 15 or more if you have 23+ IRQs. Typically most people have both IDE channels enabled, and at least another IRQ taken up by a Mouse (USB, Serial or Parallel), so that's another 2 IRQs taken up. So for starters if you have more PCI, AGP or COM devices than potentially free IRQs, you'll get IRQ sharing no matter what you do. If you still want to proceed with trying to change the IRQ arrangements, there are several methods I know of which will work with varying degrees of success. Remember, under Windows XP there's pretty much no other way.Update Motherboard Drivers and BIOSThe first step is to update your motherboard drivers and if possible, install the latest BIOS for your motherboard. See my System Optimization Guide for details on where to get them and how to install them. Note that this step is unlikely to have any great impact, but it may help in the reallocation of IRQs as part of the next few steps. Also, updating your BIOS is something you should do anyway, and who knows maybe you'll be lucky and a new BIOS might end up giving you more than 16 IRQs. Disable Unused Devices1. Reboot your PC and go into your BIOS.2. Disable any devices which you do not use. Obviously you should make sure nothing is connected to these devices as they will stop functioning if the device is disabled (e.g. a Printer on the Parallel Port). The logical choices, given the IRQ allocation table shown above include:Serial Port1 (COM1)Serial Port2 (COM2)Parallel Port (LPT1)Game PortMidi PortSecondary IDE Channel3. Once you've disabled as many of these unused devices as possible, find an option in your BIOS like 'Reset Configuration Data' (or similar), and activate it to reallocate the freed up resources on reboot. 4. If you reboot into Windows and that hasn't worked in changing your IRQs, which is quite likely, move on to the next step.Physically Move Devices1. Physically shift a device sharing an IRQ with another major device if possible. For example, if your sound card is sharing an IRQ with another major device, turn off your PC.2. Shift the sound card from one PCI slot to another free one. 3. Reset your configuration in the BIOS and reboot your PC.Once again this is unlikely to work completely because of the way Windows XP may simply reallocate the same IRQs to your devices on ACPI-compliant systems. If it does fail, move on to the ultimate step below.Reinstall WindowsIf all else fails and you're having serious problems with devices which share IRQs, then the relatively foolproof way is to follow all the steps above in sequence, then quite simply reformat your hard drive and reinstall Windows (See Installation Issues section). This has the highest chance of reallocating the newly freed-up IRQs, though if you're unlucky and you have a large number of devices Windows may still force 2 or more of them to share. As long as they're not major devices though, things should be fine.The reformat/reinstall method is the only guaranteed way of getting the IRQs to change. By freeing up several IRQs (especially by disabling COM/LPT resources), and given you have 6 or less additional devices on your system, you have a very good chance of winding up with no, or minimal, shared IRQs.Please note that I don't recommend disabling ACPI. This is a common solution to IRQ sharing which some people suggest, but it can cause a raft of problems and disables functionality like being able to shut your PC down through Windows (you'll have to use the power off button) to name but one. Strange system behaviour may also result, perhaps worse than any problems you had with IRQ sharing in the first place. You also cannot reenable ACPI without reinstalling Windows again anyway, so it's just not worth trying.Changing Drive LettersTool: Computer Management
If you have several Hard Drives and CD/DVD/CDRW Drives, you can use the Computer Management tool to change the drive letters allocated to them by default (e.g. C:\, G:\, etc.). To do so, follow these steps:1. Open Computer Management by going to Start>Run and typing "Compmgmt.msc" without quotes.2. Under the Storage area, click on Disk Management. You should see all your drives listed in the right pane. Use the scroll bar to look through them all.3. Right-click on the drive name in the right pane whose path you wish to change and select 'Change Drive Letter and Paths'.4. Click the Change button and from the drop down list on the right, select a new drive letter. Click OK and click Yes on the warning tab - as long as you realise any shortcuts referencing a program on the changed drive may be incorrect now.Note that if you want to swap two drive paths, choose an untaken path for the first drive (e.g. Z:\), reassign the second one to the new path you want for it, then go back to the first drive and reassign it to its new path - you cannot set two or more drives to the same path at the same time.How much to upgrade to x64 Edition?

WinXP Tweaking: From Relax to Righteous - System (Part 3)

System (Continued)Using the Recovery ConsoleTool: Windows XP CD, Windows Setup
The Recovery Console is a tool built into Windows which allows you to do such things as check for faults on your drive, repair the Master Boot Records (See Unmountable Boot Volume above) and so on. The quickest way to access the Recovery Console is to do the following:1. Insert your Windows XP CD into your main CDROM drive.2. Reboot and go into your BIOS. Set the 'First Boot Device' (or similar) option in the BIOS to CDROM. Reboot.3. As your PC starts booting up from the CD, keep pressing the F8 key, especially when you see the message 'Booting from ATAPI CDROM', just keep pressing F8. The screen will go blank and you can stop pressing F8.4. The Windows Setup blue screen will eventually appear. Give it time to load all the files it needs, and you'll see a set of options.5. Press R from the Windows Setup screen to access the Recovery Console.6. Press a number which corresponds with your Windows installation. Typically this is just 1. Enter your Admin password if required, or leave blank and press ENTER if you have no password set.7. Once the Recovery Console opens, there are a range of commands you can use. Just type "Help" (without quotes) and a list of commands will be shown. To see the options for each command in more detail, type the command followed by "/?" (without quotes).Note you can also install the Recovery Console so that it appears as one of the options on your boot menu. Instructions on how to do that are in this article. However this is not necessary if you use the above method. Hopefully you shouldn't need to use the Recovery Console very often, if at all!System File CheckerTool: System File CheckerThe System File Checker is another built-in function of Windows XP that allows the system to go through and check all the major system files against the original versions stored on a valid Microsoft Windows XP CD. This is extremely handy if you suspect corrupted/tampered system files which are leading to unusual Windows behaviour. To use the System File Checker, use the following procedure:1. Go to Start>Run and type "SFC /Scannow" without quotes to start an immediate scan of your system files. 2. The System File Checker will go through all your important system files and make sure they're as provided by Microsoft. Where files are corrupted or shown to be different from original, they'll be replaced with the originals. You will be prompted to insert your Windows XP CD to access some of the original XP files, while others (such as the SP1 files) will be accessed from your hard drive. You can skip the XP CD check, but this will likely result in a failed repair.3. If prompted to reboot your PC, reboot as required.Note that you can use the switches "/scanonce" (to scan after the next reboot) or "/scanboot" (to scan on every reboot) instead of "/scannow" (all without quotes of course). If you choose "/scanboot", then want to stop a scan after every reboot at some point, use the "/revert" switch.How much to upgrade to x64 Edition?

WinXP Tweaking: From Relax to Righteous - Keyboard & Program Shortcuts

Keyboard & Program ShortcutsMost people know that you can use the keyboard to speed up access to common commands and functions. Some people use these 'keyboard shortcuts' a great deal, others rely on their trusty mouse. I've rounded up the majority of the most useful Windows keyboard shortcuts, and even some shortcuts you can type in the Start>Run box to gain quick access to useful utilities in Windows. I highly recommend you try and get used to using some of these as they quickly become second nature. My personal favorite is Windows Key and E pressed together to bring up Windows Explorer anywhere, anytime...try it and you'll never use the Windows Explorer shortcut again!Before we go any further, for those of you with damaged or broken keyboards, or some sort of impairment which doesn't allow you to use a keyboard easily (drunkenness or illiteracy don't count), try the following tweak.Microsoft On-screen KeyboardTool: MS On-screen Keyboard
So you're a mouse fan, huh? Keyboard broken or problems using it? Want to surf the net one-handed? Say no more, because you can bring up the handy MS Onscreen Keyboard by going to Start>Run and typing "OSK" (without quotes). Up pops the virtual keyboard. You can now click anywhere on the screen where text is used, strategically position this on-screen keyboard and use your mouse to left-click on each key just as if it were a real keyboard. Make sure under OSK Settings that Always on Top is selected for optimal use.Note if you don't like to or can't click the left mouse button, in OSK go to Settings>Typing Mode and select the Hover to Select option. Now you can just put your mouse cursor over a key on the OSK and it will register as an entry. Set the length of time needed to hover over a key before it registers as an entry (values in seconds between 0.00 and 1.00 second). Now, let's get on with presenting the most useful keyboard and program shortcuts. Keyboard ShortcutsOk, here are the most useful keyboard shortcuts:
Print them out, use them often and soon you'll be using them without even thinking twice about it!Program ShortcutsThe following are quick and easy ways you can access common Windows XP programs without having to find and click the relevant icon. To use these shortcuts, go to Start>Run and type the shortcut into the box exactly as given, without any quotes. You can also use these shortcuts when creating desktop icons for example.Directory ShortcutIf you want to get to a particular directory folder, type the name and path of the folder in the Run box and Windows Explorer will open up in that directory instantly. If you don't specify the full path, Windows Explorer will open up at the first incidence of that directory. E.g. type in "C:\Documents and Settings" (without quotes) and it will open up Windows Explorer in that directory.Administrative Tool ShortcutsServices.msc - ServicesGpedit.msc - Group Editor (XP Pro only)Comexp.msc - Component ServicesEventvwr.msc - Event ViewerSecpol.msc - Local Security PolicyPerfmon.msc - Performance MonitorCompmgmt.msc - Computer ManagementAccessories ShortcutsCalc - CalcCmd - MSDOS/Command PromptNotepad - NotepadPbrush - PaintWmplayer - Windows Media PlayerWordpad - WordpadWupdmgr - Windows UpdateControl Panel ShortcutsControl - Control PanelSysdm.cpl - System PropertiesDesk.cpl - Display PropertiesMain.cpl - Mouse PropertiesTimedate.cpl - Clock PropertiesInetcpl.cpl - Internet PropertiesMmsys.cpl - Sounds and Audio DevicesHow much to upgrade to x64 Edition?

WinXP Tweaking: From Relax to Righteous - Installation Issues

Installation IssuesThis section deals with general issues relating to installing XP, updating XP to SP1, Activation and repair of bad installations.Reformatting and clean installing Windows XPTools: Windows XP CDIf you look under the Recovery Console tweak in the System section of this guide, you'll see the best method of getting to the Windows Setup screen. From there it's simply a matter of pressing ENTER and following the prompts to reformat and reinstall Windows XP.However, if you need some guidance through the entire process, I've found two excellent guides to help you:Black Viper's Windows XP Pro Reinstall GuideBlack Viper's Windows XP Home Reinstall GuideI highly recommend a clean reformat and reinstall of Windows XP if you're experiencing a multitude of problems. It gives you a fresh start, and can also help in matters such as resolving shared IRQs (See System section).Backing up/restoring system passwordsTool: Forgotten Password Wizard
One of the biggest hassles when running Windows XP would be losing your login password, particularly if you're the Administrator. With the NTFS file system it is virtually impossible to access the data on your hard drive without the correct password. The best thing to do is back up all your passwords now before anything happens, so that if necessary you can restore them without pulling out all your hair. The way to do that is as follows:Backing up Passwords1. Go to Control Panel>User Accounts and click on your User account (the one with the icon).2. Click on 'Prevent a Forgotten Password' in the left pane. The Forgotten Password Wizard will open up. Click Next.3. Insert a blank formatted floppy into your A:\ drive and click Next. If you need to format a blank floppy first, open Windows Explorer, right-click on A:\ and select Format. Click Next4. Type in your current user password in the box and click Next. Once the disk has been created, click Next again and select Finish.Restoring Backup PasswordTo restore your password from the disk created above, follow these steps:1. Boot your PC as normal, and on the Windows Login screen select your User Name. 2. Press Enter once and you should see the 'Did You Forget Your Password?' message. Select the 'Use Your Password Reset Disk' and put your password reset disk in the floppy drive.3. Follow the Password Reset Wizard to set a new password and log back into your system.Note the password reset disk needs to be write-enabled (hole closed) so that Windows can update your disk with the new password automatically during this procedure. Once done, put it away in a safe place, as anyone can use the disk to access your account.What Is Activation and What Does It Do?Tool: WPA GuideWindows Product Activation (WPA) or Activation for short has gained a great deal of notoriety. It is a protection system Microsoft uses to ensure that Windows piracy is reduced. There are many haters of the system, but this tweak is not about helping you circumvent it. Rather, read the following (non-Microsoft) FAQ which is excellent in explaining precisely what Activation is, what it checks on your system and sends to Microsoft, how often you'll have to Activate and why, and so on. I highly recommend you read this: Windows Product Activation Guide.Windows XP Service Pack 1 (SP1) - TipsTool: Windows XP CD and SP1/SP1aMany, many people are afraid to install Windows XP Service Pack 1 (SP1) because either they're afraid it's going to cause problems, they don't know what exactly it is or what it does, or quite frankly they're running a pirated copy of XP. For the last group, I refer you to the above WPA Guide which explains what SP1 does on pirated copies. For the rest of you, here's the lowdown on SP1/SP1a and what you can do to avoid any problems should you (and you should) install it.SP1 - What is it?Windows XP SP1 is a collection of fixes for Windows XP, which are detailed here. These fixes are the same as those available individually on the Windows Update site. SP1 essentially gathers them together into one large patch, which can be downloaded from this part of the Microsoft Site.Note you will see "SP1a" rather than SP1. The only difference between the slightly older SP1 and SP1a is that SP1a does not have Microsoft Virtual Machine, which is not a big deal in anyone's books. If you've already installed SP1, you do not need to install SP1a. If you haven't installed SP1 at all, download and install SP1a.So essentially SP1 is a combination of all the Critical Updates which are available on Windows Update dating up to early October 2002 when SP1 was released. If you've already installed all of them then you've pretty much got the equivalent of SP1 installed on your system anyway, so I don't see why there's such panic and mystery about SP1.The are two benefits to SP1 over the Windows Update method - firstly it combines all the important patches into one (134MB) patch, which you can burn to disk or slipstream (see Slipstreaming SP1 below) and hence not have to download every time you reinstall Windows. The second advantage is as part of a Court Order, Microsoft have incorporated the option to uninstall major Windows components like Internet Explorer, Outlook Express and Messenger into the Control Panel>Add/Remove>'Add/Remove Windows Components' utility when SP1 is installed. This is handy if you don't want these tools on your system, as prior to this they could not be uninstalled.What's the Best Way to Install SP1?The first thing to do is to go to the download link provided previously and download the entire Network Installation version of XP SP1a. This can be used for Slipstreaming (see below), but can also be saved separately on your drive or burnt to CD for later installation on any number of machines at any time. The Windows Update or Express Installation options check your machine to see how many Critical Updates you've already got installed and install the remained, but if you do it this way you'll need to download SP1 each time you reinstall, and there's more chance of things going wrong in general. Get the Network Installation version and hold on to it.The following steps (from Alex Nichol) are things you should do prior to installing XP SP1/SP1a:- Disable all Antivirus and firewall software.- If you have StyleXP or other tweaking software that patches core system files, remove them first.- If you've ever installed XP Antispy (it disables a .dll XP SP1 needs), go to Start>Run and type "Regsvr32 Licdll.dll" (without quotes). Click OK. Then open Run again and type "Regsvr32 Regwiz.dll" (without quotes). Click OK.- Go to Start>Run>MSConfig and untick all items under the Startup tab, and under the Services tab, tick 'Hide Microsoft Services' and untick services showing. Restore all these items once SP1 is installed.- Reboot and run the SP1.exe file (134MB) you downloaded earlier. Have your Windows XP CD handy.These steps should ensure that you have a trouble-free SP1 install and that things remain fine down the track. Some things to note are that once SP1 is installed and you've rebooted, DO NOT delete the new Service Pack Files directory (typically C:\Windows\ServicePackFiles), unless you've got a slipstreamed XP CD. The directory is used in the future by Windows to access new SP1 files when installing/uninstalling Windows components, etc.If you created a backup during the SP1 install, you can safely delete those through Control Panel>Add/Remove. Also, if you don't want to uninstall SP1 or any of the other important Windows Update files, under the Windows directory you can delete the following directory (and its contents): $NtServicePackUninstall$. You can also delete all other similar directories with $ signs around them, as they're uninstall files for Windows Update patches - which you shouldn't need to uninstall ever.Of course, the best way to install SP1 is to have a slipstreamed copy of an XP CD with SP1 on it and do a clean reformat and reinstall. Slipstreaming SP1'Slipstreaming' refers to a process whereby XP SP1 is merged with the original Windows XP CD contents to create a new XP CD. When this new XP CD is used for installing Windows XP, it includes all the SP1 updates and hence you don't need to run SP1 after installation, nor do you need to worry about any outdated files being installed on your system first, or any SP1 installation problems. It's a detailed process, but relatively straightforward. Here are two guides which run you through the process. You can use either one:Windows Helpnet XP SP1 Slipstreaming GuideTackTech XP SP1 Slipstreaming GuideI recommend you do the procedure because it will save you time and disk space next time you install Windows.How to Multiboot Windows XPTool: Windows CDsIf you want to set up your system so that you can boot into two or more Windows Operating Systems on one machine, read this Microsoft Multibooting ArticleHow much to upgrade to x64 Edition?

WinXP Tweaking: From Relax to Righteous - Conclusion

Well there you have it. The sequel to the blockbuster Windows XP: Reformat to Relax gives your system the finishing touch to push it from Relax to truly Righteous. If you've followed my first guide closely, and taken the necessary tweaks out of this one, you should be one happy camper. You should have a fast, trouble-free machine which looks good and is easy to use. As always, if you're not completely satisfied with this guide, please email me and I will refund your money in full in 4-6 weeks.I want to stress that I did not make up all the tweaks in this guide. I scoured the internet for them, researched their workings, pulled together the best ones, tested them and clarified the instructions for their usage. I am not for one second claiming that I invented these tweaks. So in that spirit I want to thank the following resources, and recommend them as an excellent place for you to go if you want to find many more Windows XP tips and tweaks: Microsoft KnowledgebaseBlack Viper's WebsiteWindows XP from A-ZWindows XP - The Elder GeekAExcel216's Windows TricksWinGuidesIf you have any suggestions or comments on the guide, or tweaks you think should be included in it, please email me (click my name at the top of this guide), or drop into the TweakTown Windows Forum and discuss it with other Windows users. I really do listen to constructive criticism and I'll update this guide as often as necessary to make sure it's as accurate and comprehensive as it can be. Finally, if you run the latest games (like UT2003, BF1942, America's Army, etc.) check out my tweak guides for such games under the Gaming heading on this page: TweakTown Tweak Guides. They're chock-o-block full of game-tweaking goodness. Until next time take care!How much to upgrade to x64 Edition?

Last updated: Apr 7, 2020 at 12:25 pm CDT

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